Chinese officials to meet at Pentagon after jet intercept
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[August 26, 2014]
By Phil Stewart and David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and Chinese
military officials will hold talks on rules of behavior at the Pentagon
on Wednesday and Thursday, a U.S. official said, days after the United
States denounced a "dangerous" Chinese jet intercept of a U.S. Navy
Last Tuesday, a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers
around the U.S. Navy's P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and
reconnaissance plane, crossing over and under it in international
airspace over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said.
At one point, the jet flew wingtip-to-wingtip about 10 yards (9
meters) from the Poseidon, then performed a barrel roll over the top
of it. The U.S. defense official said other close intercepts
occurred in March, April and May.
While this week's discussions at the Pentagon were planned long
before the recent incidents, they touch on issues at the core of the
U.S. concerns about Chinese military behavior: that a Chinese
provocation could spiral into a broader crisis sparked by a military
miscalculation in the disputed territory.
China's sovereignty claims over the strategic stretch of
mineral-rich water off its southern coast and to the east of
mainland Southeast Asia set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam
and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay
claim to parts of the disputed areas.
The meetings involve a working group to discuss existing
multilateral standards of behavior for air and maritime activities,
the defense official told Reuters, speaking on condition of
Rear Admiral James Foggo, Assistant Deputy Chief of U.S. Naval
Operations, is among the U.S. military officials attending, the
China's Defence Ministry confirmed it had sent a delegation to the
United States for the "consultative working group meetings" but it
did not say which officials were involved.
"This is a program within the Sino-US annual exchange plans, and is
aimed at implementing the relevant consensus achieved by the leaders
of the two countries and to promote the establishment of the code of
conduct on naval and air force safety on the high seas between China
and the United States," the ministry said in a faxed statement to
The U.S. and Chinese militaries have boosted their contacts in
recent years amid recognition that, as China's economic interests
expand, it will play a bigger security role in the world and have
more interactions with the U.S. military.
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Still, the recent intercepts show that those increased contacts have
not eliminated friction.
In April 2001, a similar aggressive intercept of a U.S. EP-3E spy
plane by a Chinese F-8 fighter in the same area resulted in a
collision that killed the Chinese pilot and forced the American
plane to make an emergency landing at a base on China's Hainan
The 24 U.S. air crew members were held for 11 days until Washington
apologized for the incident. That encounter soured U.S.-Chinese
relations in the early days of President George W. Bush's first
China has denied wrongdoing in the latest incident and blamed the
United States, citing "large-scale and highly frequent close-in
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded by saying the
United States operated "in a transparent manner."
"We make other countries, including China, aware of our plans,"
(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING; Editing by Robert
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